Ukraine’s National Commission for the State Regulation of Communications and Informatization (NCCIR or NKRZI) yesterday (23 February 2015) completed the long-awaited auction for three 15-year nationwide 3G (UMTS) 2100MHz mobile operating licences, raising a total of UAH8.770 billion (USD311 million), with all three existing Ukrainian GSM network operators gaining a 2×15MHz concession. The NCCIR reported on its website that Turkish-Ukrainian venture Astelit (life:)) paid the highest price for its 3G frequencies, winning the first block with a bid of UAH3.355 billion. Russian-owned MTS Ukraine (the country’s second largest cellco by users) placed the second-highest bid in the auction, acquiring UMTS block number two for UAH2.715 billion. The third 3G auction lot was awarded to Ukraine’s cellular market leader by users Kyivstar (backed by Russian-controlled, Amsterdam-based Vimpelcom), which paid UAH2.700 billion.
The three winners have 30 days to pay the licence acquisition fees before being officially issued the paired frequencies, which are in the bands: 1920MHz-1935MHz and 2110MHz-2125MHz; 1950MHz-1965MHz and 2140MHz-2155MHz; and 1965MHz-1980MHz and 2155MHz-2170MHz. Licensing conditions stipulate commercial 3G 2100MHz network launches within six months, but all three cellcos are expected to launch much sooner than that. All regional centres in Ukraine must be covered with 3G services within 18 months, while all settlements of 10,000-plus inhabitants should be served within six years. Ukraine’s sole existing UMTS network operator is domestically-owned TriMob, the mobile division of Ukrtelecom.